The hygge evening: A celebration of staying in.
The Danish word hygge seems to be getting a fair amount of attention these days.
As a Dane myself, I can see why. The idea of incorporating a relaxed and cozy aesthetic in life is very appealing.
So, let’s dive into one of the most popular types of gatherings in Denmark (the motherland of hygge), which is the so-called hyggeaften.
First of all, the term hyggeaften is directly translated from “cozy night.”
Keep in mind that there is no set of rules about what a hyggeaften must include. The important thing is creating a cozy atmosphere in good company. How you choose to create that cozy atmosphere is really up to you.
However, when a Dane invites you to a hyggeaften, it usually means staying in.
Often, as a student in Denmark and making plans with friends, someone will say: “We could also have a hyggeaften at my place instead?” In that sense, a hyggeaften becomes a way of celebrating each other’s company without having to go out. It becomes a celebration of staying in.
After many years of experience as a hyggeaften host in Denmark, I am going to give you my top five tips for creating the perfect hyggeaften. My friends and I have turned the hyggeaften into an established tradition, once a month, where these practices are always included:
1. The food: Cook together
In many social gatherings, food seems to be the center of attention – therefore, eating a delicious meal on your hyggeaften is a no-brainer. However, I find that people today often choose to either go out to a restaurant or order take-away.
Personally, I think home-cooked meals are great – especially when you have made them with someone you love.
I truly believe that food is more enjoyable when you have put a true effort into making it, whereas eating out can feel quite rushed.
When you have watched an amazing meal being made, it really contributes to the positive social atmosphere. Plus, great discussion while cutting vegetables will forever be my favorite kind of small-talk!
This type of enjoyable relaxation is why I always invite my friends over to cook together. It creates the best start to an evening every time. Also, it is a great way to try out new recipes and learn more about cooking.
It can be very rewarding when everyone contributes their own little tips and touches to a dish. For instance, I have optimized my guacamole about 10x after seeing how one of my friends makes it. To get started, some easy dishes that never fail are: Tapas, burgers with (homemade!) fries and tortillas.
2. The setting: Create the right atmosphere with warm lights and plants
A big part of the hygge feeling comes from your surroundings. So when hosting a hyggeaften, make sure you do something extra to create the right atmosphere.
I’m not talking about redecorating your entire home, but there are a few steps you can take to make your home feel more warm and cozy.
First of all, create a good indoor environment by letting in some fresh air, and bringing in some green plants. Green plants have a positive effect on the indoor climate. Aside from producing oxygen, many plants, such as the Areca Palm and the Aloe Vera plant, clean the air.
And of course, bringing a little piece of nature into your home is very decorative and contributes to a healthy mentality overall. A fresh bouquet of seasonal flowers is also a great idea.
Having plants and letting in fresh air is even more important if you are going to burn candles… which you are, since the next step in creating the right hygge lighting!
The key here is to create lighting that is comfortable for your eyes and gives a feeling of warmth. Therefore, don’t turn on your brightest lamps, and try to only have warm-toned lights on. Having candlelight on your dining table and in your window frames is always a winner.
If you’re not a fan of burning a ton of candles, fairy lights are also a great option. Fairy lights are warm-toned, decorative, and they don’t light up the entire room which is perfect.
3. The entertainment: Introducing “The Song Quiz”
I am now going to introduce you to a life-changing game that I play with my friends in Denmark. Generally, I enjoy all types of card games, board games and quizzes, but nothing beats The Song Quiz made by one of my best friends.
It is awfully simple, but still manages to get everyone super competitive every time.
All you need is friends to play with, and a device that can play music (and maybe a speaker for better music quality).
Here’s how it works: One person is chosen to be the game master, preferably someone with wide-ranged music taste, and the rest of the players are split into at least two teams. Then, the game master plays a song, and whoever guesses either the title or the artist first gets a point. The first team to get a certain number of points wins. Sounds simple, right? It is, which means you don’t have to remember a long set of rules, which is part of what makes it so fun.
Finally, a tip for getting your friends even more into the competitive spirit: have a prize for the winning team.
4. The refreshing walk
Taking a walk may not sound very fun or like something you would want to do on a night with friends.
But after spending a few hours inside (and eating a large amount of delicious food), your head may begin to feel a bit heavy.
Haven’t we all tried leaving a dinner party or a movie night with a slight feeling of discomfort after sitting down for hours, eating too much food?
I find that taking a small walk after dinner lifts one’s mood a lot. You get your bodies moving which helps prevent any bloating that might occur after a large meal, and you get some nice, fresh air.
Plus, walking with friends is always more fun than walking alone — especially if the end destination is the supermarket where you can buy snacks. And when you return to your place, everyone will feel much better about sitting down and relaxing.
5. The late-night movie
Movie nights are popular around the world, and for a good reason. Your hyggeaften is a perfect opportunity to put on a good movie, and for this I have a tip that I swear by: Watch the movie at the end of the night when everyone is tired, and when every topic has been talked about and discussed to the fullest.
At a regular movie night, you are watching movies from the beginning until the end of the evening. This means that all the talking has to be done while the movies are playing, and you almost always end up missing important parts. Also, people tend to become kind of tired when you are well into the 3rd movie although it is probably only 8:00 pm.
Watching only one movie (and doing it late in the evening), is a nice way to end the night, and it will feel very relaxing not having to focus on anything else.